Translations

With Utmost Efforts Practise What Was Learnt 尽力修持所学

持斋警策,意甚真切。

[On] upholding veg[etaria]nism, [as a] warning, [your] mind [must be] very true [and] sincere.

[Note 1: ‘持斋’ can also refer to upholding of the Eight Precepts (八关斋戒), along with veg(etaria)nism (吃素). However, this following admonition also applies to all other spiritual practices expressedly committed to.]

但须脚踏实地,尽力做去。

[This] only needs [you to have your] feet [to] step [upon] actual ground, [with] utmost efforts going [forth to] do [it].

[Note 2: This refers to having down-to-earth and true practice.]

否则便成妄语中妄语。

Otherwise, [this] then becomes [the] false speech amongst false speech.

[Note 3: This is so as commitment to spiritual practice is the greatest form of commitment, being for the welfare of all sentient beings.]

知之匪艰,行之维艰。

Knowing this [is] not difficult. Practising this [is] difficult.

[Note 4: For the practice of veg(etaria)nism, it will be less challenging if compassion for suffering animals is focused upon, instead of greed for the taste of their flesh and produce. For the Pure Land path, it is already the Easy Practice Path (易行道), but for those lacking diligence in learning and practice, it is to that extent still somewhat ‘difficult’.]

世间多少聪明人,皆以唯说不行,了此一生。

[This] world [has] so many ‘clever’ people, all only with speaking, [but] not [with] practising, [then] finishing this one life.

[Note 5: It is easy for the ‘intelligent’ to know and talk theory a lot, without adequate wholehearted practice, before time runs out… again. They are to that extent not wise, even if ‘smart’. While learning without practice is inadequate learning, learning should never be equated to practice.]

徒入宝山,空手而归。

[In] vain entering [a] treasure mountain, [but with] empty hands then returning.

[Note 6: This is the ‘mountain’ with many precious theoretical teachings amassed from, yet with none really practised, thus not really ‘owning’ any of them, and not able to use them when it is time to depart from this life.]

可痛惜哉,可痛惜哉!

[This is] grievously regrettable, grievously regrettable!

[Note 7: This is grievously regrettable for two reasons. First, this life, with no genuine progress via practice towards liberation, is wasted. Second, in the next life, if not reaching Pure Land, all learnt in this life will be forgotten. If also with no genuine progress in this next life, it will be wasted too.]

净土宗十三祖印光大师
(复高邵麟居士书四)

Pure Land Tradition’s 13 Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
(Fourth Reply Letter [To] Layperson Gāo Shàolín)

Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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